How to Save on Property Taxes

Three veterans smiling with arms around each other

Your property tax bill can make your eyes widen and your wallet shrivel. In Massachusetts, the median property tax bill exceeds $4,500, one of the highest medians in the U.S.

However, there are ways to reduce your property tax. When property taxes run into the thousands of dollars each year, even a relatively small discount can add up to big savings. Here are a few options.

Are you a veteran? Your service to the nation could qualify you for a tax break. In Massachusetts, income tax reductions are available to veterans with at least a 10 percent disability and/or recipients of the Purple Heart, Congressional Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross or Air Force Cross. Gold Star mothers and fathers and surviving spouses of veterans in these categories who have not remarried are also eligible. Contact your community’s veterans agent or assessors’ office for information on your individual case. If you don't live in Massachusetts, here's a list of property tax benefits for veterans by state.

If you're 65 or older in Massachusetts and your property tax bill and half your water and sewer bill exceed 10 percent of your income, you may be eligible to claim a refundable credit on your personal state income tax return. The Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit allows a maximum credit of $1,150 for 2020. If this amount exceeds your tax bill, you can receive a refund of the additional amount of the credit. Learn more about the Massachusetts tax credit here. Over a dozen other states offer circuit breaker tax credits, and not just for seniors.

Question your assessment. Your property tax is based in part on the value of your home as set by local assessors. This means the assessed value of your home  being used to determine your property tax may not be accurate. If you think your property valuation is too high, check to see if your local assessor’s office has the property recorded accurately, with the correct acreage, number of rooms and amenities such as garages and sheds. One less bedroom than listed by the assessor’s office can mean a lower tax bill. You can request an abatement, which will be granted if you can prove that the fair market value of your property is less than its assessed value.

Members of the National Guard or military reserve who are serving in a foreign country may, in some Commonwealth communities, receive up to a 100 percent discount on their property taxes

Work off your bill. Seniors ages 60 and older in participating communities can receive a tax abatement through a program known as the Senior Citizen Property Tax Work-Off Abatement Program. Participants provide volunteer services to their communities in exchange for a decrease in their tax bill. Call your local assessors’ office to see if your community offers this option.

Whether you're in Massachusetts or another state, it can pay to check with your local tax assessor about specific local programs. You could find a reduction to make your financial situation a little less taxing. 

Note: The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.

 

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About Author

Sandra Quadros Bowles
Sandra Quadros Bowles

Sandy Quadros Bowles is a veteran journalist who has received local, state, and national journalism awards. A resident of New Bedford, MA, she is an animal enthusiast, an avid reader, and an enthusiastic traveler.

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